Diablo 3 Difficulty

A week in and people are complaining that D3 Inferno is too hard – even though some have completed it.  Mind you, they used abilities that completely (or nearly) negated all damage taken.  Two particular quotes for this:

There are definitely some aspects of Inferno and the way damage comes in that we’re looking at. Before we get there though we want to address the skills that are ‘must haves’, and see how the skill and gear game settles out a bit before we address content. If there’s a skill that you absolutely can’t survive without, that’s a much more serious issue to customization, build diversity, and the game as a whole than someone not being able to progress as quickly as they feel they should.

I think tweaks to content difficulty is a given, it’s going to happen in some shape or form, but we’re not there quite yet.

And

We purposely launched the game with Inferno being far more difficult than what we were able to progress in ourselves, assuming people would find it as difficult but with a few skilled players able to pull it off, or the difficulty would simply help root out problem skills and builds that allowed flaw-filled progression possibilities.

I think the main problem we’re running into is people progress more or less linearly to Inferno, and the brick wall effect makes it seem like these broken skills were the correct way to overcome the difficulty because the belief is that Inferno must be an immediately surmountable challenge, which it isn’t intended to be. Or the reverse, that because these skills allowed progression the classes that did not have them were too weak/broken, which isn’t correct.

From a player perspective, this seems incongruous to Blizzard’s “when it’s done” mantra and usual level of polish.  Mind you, their last release, Starcraft 2, was a PvP game with an insane amount of games in beta.  How could you possibly test the hardest difficulty with a testing team of like 20?  Answer – they didn’t, which is the problem.

There are a few points I take from this and my playtime:

  • Someone thought that releasing untested content was a good idea.  Sort of like untested raids in WoW that were bugged for weeks. A beta test would have shown this in a day.
  • Melee are at a serious disadvantage on Inferno where they must be taking hits in order to attack, which in turn requires them to reduce their offence and increase their defense.  Ranged attackers do not have this problem.
  • Any skill that increases absorption is superior to avoidance – this has been tested profusely in WoW. The difference between spikes and smooth damage taken.  Get hit 1 out of 20 times for 40K or 19 out of 20 times for 2K.  Both take the same damage over the same time except the former needs 41K health to stay alive during that process.
  • Healing skills do not scale.  Best heals are 12K and people are running around with 40K+ health.
  • People are following a somewhat linear curve from normal to hell, then a big spike in Inferno act 1 and a huge one in Act 2. (30% differences between the last few)
  • Blizzard realizes that some skills are seriously underbalanced, others are overpowered and until there is some level of balance on those skills, they can’t tweak the difficulties.

Here’s where I have issue.  If this game was released by any other company, it would have been trashed for the issues mentioned above.  Imagine if in Batman, when you fought the Joker, none of your abilities worked and he one-shot you from behind a wall.  Frustrating a bit?  Blizzard gets away with a lot these days, way more than other companies.  If they had not released Inferno at all, the game would be fine (minus the lag, broken ah, and disconnects).  Yet they pushed a feature in multiple promotional articles and it is for most intents, broken.

Le *sigh*.

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